An appellate court has stopped the clock from ticking on a federal judge’s order that gave Maryland two weeks to change the rules for obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said the permit process can remain as it is while the state attorney general challenges the ruling that one of the existing requirements is unconstitutional.
The three-judge panel also expedited oral arguments up to the court’s October session, which runs from Oct. 23 to Oct. 26.
“And, in the meantime, the state will continue to enforce and follow this law as it was passed by the Maryland General Assembly,” said David Paulson, a spokesman for Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler.
Gansler filed the motion for a stay with the 4th Circuit late Friday, days after U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg declined to extend it while Gansler appealed his March ruling.
At issue is the requirement that an applicant show a “good and substantial reason to wear, carry or transport a handgun, such as a finding that the permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.”
In March, Legg ruled that gun ownership is a right implicit in the U.S. Constitution and the state should have to show why an applicant should not get a permit, instead of requiring applicants to show why they deserve them. He also said the requirement was overly broad and not reasonably adapted to the state’s substantial interest in ensuring public safety.
The Bellevue, Wash.-based Second Amendment Foundation, which supports gun rights, is also a party to the lawsuit. Alan M. Gottlieb, executive vice president of the foundation, said the organization was not concerned with the stay, or with the decision to fast-track oral arguments.
“We don’t read anything into this decision whatsoever,” Gottlieb said. “It’s actually kind of good news for us, because we want to have this decided as quickly as we can.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by Hampstead resident Raymond Woollard in July 2010. The Maryland Handgun Permit Review Board had turned down his request to renew his permit in 2009.
Woollard, a U.S. Navy veteran, had obtained the permit in 2002 after he fought with an intruder in his home. The renewal was turned down under the Public Safety Article’s “good and substantial reason” requirement.
Legg declined to extend the stay of his ruling in an order signed July 23 and entered a day later. Wednesday’s order, signed by Judge Robert B. King with Judges Roger L. Gregory and Andre M. Davis concurring, puts the stay back in place.
In seeking the stay, Gansler argued that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is not impinged upon by requiring a good and substantial reason to have a concealed carry permit. He also called the Legg’s ruling an “extraordinary step” that invalidated a four-decade-old state law.